Specswizard, "Rap Flow Stain" (self-released)
Perpetually and unjustly under the radar, Seattle MC/producer Specswizard raps like he's confiding in you in a private spot and trusting you to savor his words and take them to heart. His productions subtly twist golden-age-hiphop beatmaking into more subdued and warped realms, but he's also fond of going expansively orchestral, like any true appreciator of David Axelrod. Back in 2010 in The Stranger, I wrote, "Specs exudes a confidence that doesn't need bellowing, chest-pounding, and nut-grabbing to make its impact felt. His sly braggadocio rides mostly laid-back, funky foundations that are marbled with wonky keyboard tones and unconventional samples, often lifted from prog-rock wax." In other words, Specs is defiantly out of step with modern hiphop... but you know, he hasn't given a fuck about that for over two decades. He's not about to jump on any fashionable bandwagons now.
Specs's new UNFOLLOW EP—recorded and mixed by Adam and Tyler Swan of Truckasauras and mastered by Adam Straney—brings yet more of his understated brilliance. "Rap Flow Stain" is a boast track—of which there have been thousands—but none has sounded as strange and sonically and lyrically singular as this one. The production's woozily funky and eerie, with wonderfully zonked percussion and bass-synth timbres while Specs extols his verbal facility and advises rivals to spend more time in the lab before getting on the mic. It's a masterpiece of concision and derision.